Former Freedom Rider helps local students fund historic trip - FOX 13 News

Former Freedom Rider helps local students fund historic trip

Posted: Updated:
DETROIT (myFOXDetroit.com) -

It was a painful moment in American history, marked with undaunted courage in the face of real fear.

Hundreds of Freedom Riders - black and white, male and female - risked their lives to travel together on interstate buses through the segregated South.

In 1961, these activists sought to challenge the non-enforcement of two U.S. Supreme Court rulings which stated segregated public buses were unconstitutional.

Many were beaten. Many more were sent to jail in Jackson, Mississippi.

One bus was firebombed.

Diane Nash was a leader in the movement. As a student at Fisk University in Nashville, she was elected coordinator of the Nashville Student Movement Ride, and recruited new riders.

This was no easy feat. The first wave of Riders met with a violent and premature ending. Two buses made their way into the deep South. One was stopped with a firebomb in Anniston, Alabama.

The second made it to Birmingham, where it was greeted by hundreds of rioters who savagely beat the early civil rights activists. Infamous Birmingham Police Chief Eugene "Bull" Connor let the rioters rain down unimpeded terror for 20 minutes before his officers intervened.

 That didn't stop Nash and her new recruits.

"I was afraid the whole time, and I think you had to be. It was dangerous," she told Fox 2 Sunday. "So if you had a good sense you would be afraid."

She said segregation was so degrading and humiliating that the alternative to doing what they did was to tolerate it.

"I could never imagine just tolerating that type of dehumanization," she said.

Nash shared her incredible story, and some of the lessons of non-violence, during an event Sunday night at Marygrove College in Detroit.

That gathering was also a fundraiser, helping pay for a bus trip through the South for 35 Michigan students.

They'll visit historic sites and retrace the Freedom Riders perilous journey.

The program Sunday, hosted by the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights, included musical performances, dinner and awards for five Metro Detroiters for their human rights activism.

Fox 2's Amy Lange served as the evening's emcee.

Click on the video player to hear from some of the young people who will take the Freedom Tour this June. They shared their thoughts on what it was like to meet Diane Nash, and why it's so important to preserve the legacy of the Freedom Riders.

Those students are still looking for financial help. You can contribute by calling 313-579-9071, or visit www.mchr.org.

  • Robin SchwartzRobin SchwartzMore>>

  • Vandals damage historic Detroit cemetery

    Vandals damage historic Detroit cemetery

    Friday, July 25 2014 10:38 PM EDT2014-07-26 02:38:55 GMT
    Police are looking for suspects after vandals disturb the peace at a historic Detroit cemetery. Someone broke into a mausoleum and made a mess with spray paint and ashes.
    Police are looking for suspects after vandals disturb the peace at a historic Detroit cemetery. Someone broke into a mausoleum and made a mess with spray paint and ashes.
  • 33 suspects arrested with ties to Latin Counts street gang

    33 suspects arrested with ties to Latin Counts street gang

    Friday, July 25 2014 8:10 PM EDT2014-07-26 00:10:22 GMT
    Right now, nearly three dozen violent criminals are off the streets. The U.S. Attorney says they have ties to the Latin Counts gang in southwest Detroit. Their arrests are part of a joint effort called Detroit One.
    Right now, nearly three dozen violent criminals are off the streets. The U.S. Attorney says they have ties to the Latin Counts gang in southwest Detroit. Their arrests are part of a joint effort called Detroit One.
  • Handmade furniture from Detroit reclaimed lumber

    Handmade furniture from Detroit reclaimed lumber

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 4:18 PM EDT2014-07-23 20:18:32 GMT
    A new brand of furniture is made with wood from deconstructed Detroit homes. The tables are now being sold at Gardner White Furniture stores.
    A new brand of furniture is made with wood from deconstructed Detroit homes. The tables are now being sold at Gardner White Furniture stores.
  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • FBI joins the search for Armada teen's killer

    FBI joins the search for Armada teen's killer

    Friday, July 25 2014 11:08 PM EDT2014-07-26 03:08:38 GMT
    The FBI has joined the investigation team searching for the killer of a 14-year-old Armada girl, April Millsap.
    The FBI has joined the investigation team searching for the killer of a 14-year-old Armada girl, April Millsap. Authorities also say they are now looking for a small motorcycle in addition to the gray, dented van seen in the area.
  • Vandals damage historic Detroit cemetery

    Vandals damage historic Detroit cemetery

    Friday, July 25 2014 10:38 PM EDT2014-07-26 02:38:55 GMT
    Police are looking for suspects after vandals disturb the peace at a historic Detroit cemetery. Someone broke into a mausoleum and made a mess with spray paint and ashes.
    Police are looking for suspects after vandals disturb the peace at a historic Detroit cemetery. Someone broke into a mausoleum and made a mess with spray paint and ashes.
  • Man hospitalized after run-in with Ecorse police

    Man hospitalized after run-in with Ecorse police

    Friday, July 25 2014 10:05 PM EDT2014-07-26 02:05:54 GMT
    Witnesses and lawyers say a man was attacked by Ecorse police Monday morning even though he was complying with police demands.
    Witnesses and lawyers say a man was attacked by Ecorse police Monday morning even though he was complying with police demands.
Powered by WorldNow

FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
3213 West Kennedy Blvd.
Tampa, Florida 33609
Main: (813) 876-1313
Newsroom: (813) 870-9630
Fax: (813) 871-3135

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices